Seroprevalence of hepatitis E is now documented in many countries around the world, but studies of its clinical manifestations and serologic course have been confined to endemic areas. We have prospectively evaluated the occurrence, evolution, and outcome of acute hepatitis E in our patients. Fifteen patients (11 men, 4 women; median age: 41 years) were diagnosed to have acute, sporadic hepatitis E between July 1993 and January 1995; 10 of the 15 were followed up. Sera anti-hepatitis E virus (HEV) immunoglobulin (Ig)G and IgM antibodies and HEV ribonucleic acid in the blood and stool were tested at weeks 1 and 2; serial tests for hepatitis E antibodies and liver function were carried out at months 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, and 18. Coinfection with hepatitis A and superinfection on chronic hepatitis B were found in 3 and 2 patients, respectively. One patient had transient passage of virus in the stool, but none was viremic. Eighty-seven percent of patients lost their IgM antibodies within 3 months, but anti-HEV IgG, once present, persisted throughout follow-up. All patients but one had complete recovery. A higher than reported level of alanine transaminase (mean: 28.5 times normal) and the lack of viremia during acute infection in our patients may be due to increased immune-mediated viral clearance.
From the Department of Clinical Research, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore.
Received October 18, 1996. Sent for revision November 7, 1996. Accepted January 11, 1997.
This project was supported by grants from the Department of Clinical Research: Genes of Hepatitis Research, the Shaw Foundation, and the Liver Cancer Endowment Fund, Ministry of Health.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. W. C. Chow, 72, Rue Martre, Clichy 92110, France.